After hearing all the hype surrounding this book and the movie, I was eager to pick up Room by Emma Donoghue. The story seemed promising along with the unique narration, unfortunately, I just didn’t think they worked together.
Summary: Ma has been held captive for many years since she was 19 years old by a man called Old Nick. Told by her five-year-old son, Jack, she is forced to make a life for him in the small outbuilding that they are locked in. It contains a kitchen, bathtub, wardrobe, a tv and a bed, and it’s Jack’s whole world. Ma has told him that everything they don’t have is simply “tv” meaning it’s only on the TV and doesn’t exist in real life, to make her not feel so guilty for all the things she can’t give him. Old Nick comes close to every night around nine and brings them the occasional treat along with their bare necessities. At night, Ma is usually raped by Old Nick, and though Jack doesn’t understand it yet, he is a product of it. When Ma works up the courage to ask Old Nick for extra supplies, she learns he recently lost his job, and therefore, is in danger of losing his home. Ma is convinced he would rather kill her and her son before letting them go, so she makes a plan to escape, with the pivotal point being Jack pretending he’s dead. Of course, convincing Jack to do so is a whole other frustration. Over the course of a week, she must teach Jack the ways of the outside world and basically “undo” all the lying she had done for his whole life. Once their escape is complete, they are brought first to a mental hospital and then to an independent living complex, all the while Jack begins to be overwhelmed and frustrated with the outside world and his mom’s growing independence.
Why: So, the reason I rated this book so low was because of the narration. The plot, I thought, was really good and from what I know is based loosely on a true story, but the narration seemed to make it into a bit of a joke. I understand that many people thought it was unique to hear from the innocent view of a child, but since the child didn’t know what was going on half of the time and had a short attention span, as most five year old’s do, it made the story seems not as serious as it should have been. It also just became irritating after a while, when the audience would understand the urgency of the situation and Jack wouldn’t and would be doing the opposite of what he should. For example, when they leave the Room, once in the hospital, the mother is overjoyed while Jack keeps demanding that they go back to Room because it’s better there, the room where they were held captive. I know that he doesn’t understand because that room was all that he knew, but I just found it aggravating because of how serious of a situation it was, and how lucky they were to get out in the first place.
Movie: I’m waiting for the movie to come out on disk so I can watch it, and I’ve heard that it’s very good, especially with the amount of nominations it got. Since there isn’t really a narration in the movie, I’m hoping to enjoy it much more than I did the book!
What were your thoughts if you’ve read this book?